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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  181,579 ratings  ·  13,155 reviews
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could
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Hardcover, 782 pages
Published September 30th 2004 by Bloomsbury (first published September 8th 2004)
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John There is some slowness at the beginning, after Norrell arrives in London, and before Strange is on the scene. Then the story picks up again. I found…moreThere is some slowness at the beginning, after Norrell arrives in London, and before Strange is on the scene. Then the story picks up again. I found the last 300 pages unstoppable.

However: if you haven't enjoyed it so far, you may not enjoy the rest. You don't seem to enjoy the voice, which structures the whole narrative, and that may be a deal-breaker.(less)
Rita Lamb The plot in the book is very ingenious but also very intricate, so for TV it has been simplified and some locations conflated. I felt Stephen Black is…moreThe plot in the book is very ingenious but also very intricate, so for TV it has been simplified and some locations conflated. I felt Stephen Black is less morally complex in the series than in the book, while Lady Pole gained a feminist dimension. Several enjoyable minor characters are dropped and Lascelles meets a somewhat different fate. It's still a remarkable adaptation though, and keeps more of the original than it loses.(less)

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  181,579 ratings  ·  13,155 reviews


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J.G. Keely
Sigh, just what we need, another revolutionary, unusual fantasy book by an author with a practiced mastery of tone. When will authors like Clarke realize that what the fantasy genre needs are more pseudo-medieval monomyths that sprawl out into fifteen volumes?

Her magic didn't conveniently solve all of the characters' problems, instead, they wasted time thinking through conflicts and then had to solve them by taking action; how dull is that? The magic was weird, anyways. It didn't have a
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Kelly
May 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of gothic, Victorian, Jane Austen or fantasy literature.
Without a doubt the best book I have read this year. I write that without hesitation and with a beaming smile on my face. Incredible. Enthralling. Amazing. The book was over 800 pages long and it did not seem long enough. When I finished the book, I immediately turned out the light and tried to drift off to sleep, because I knew nothing else I did that night was going to top the feeling I got after blowing through the last 100 pages like a madwoman. I want to start it over again, immediately.

The
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Jayson
(B+) 77% | Good
Notes: Very slow paced and the ending doesn’t justify its length, but characters are strong and it shows flashes of brilliance.
Eric
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I so wanted to like this book. The idea is just wonderful. I was so pleased for a while to be in that world, a historical England. I love the dialogue and descriptions. And I love the idea of magic in an otherwise real setting, as though it were a normal part of our actual world. But it was so frustrating to read after a while. The footnotes, auuuugh, the footnotes. They were cute at first, because the book is written sort of like a history book from that period. But after a while they were just ...more
Tiza
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves fantasy, 19th century British lit and can endure long, slow read
Shelves: fantasy
Although Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell turns out to be a book I dearly love, I'm afraid I can't recommend it to just anyone. Whether you'll like it or not will truly depend on what you expect it to be. If you wish for a fast-paced excitement then this book is probably not for you. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a blend of meticulously researched historical fiction and imaginative fantasy, sprinkled here and there with biting social comedy, and written in a style similar to Austen's, ...more
Meagan
Aug 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jesus Christ, this book reads like molasses. It's like the author took every book from her Brit Lit class and consciously tried to make it wordier and longer than all of them combined. I get the point she wants to make, but I honestly could not get past the second chapter.

It also was so incredibly pretentious. The whole thing has this superior feel, like having a conversation with someone who is absolutely reassured of how much smarter they are than you. It left me feeling bored, stupid,
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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Book like this are not written anymore. This feels like it should have been published in the nineteenth century and not because of the obvious setting, but because of the remarkable writing style. It is very similar to Austen’s that I’m sure she might have been delighted by Clarke’s work. Well, maybe. But, either way novelists like this do not exist in this age, unfortunately. The writing has the feel of a classic, but the plot has the feel of a thoroughly charming fantasy.

This is a work of
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I adore and highly recommend this Regency-era fantasy but it definitely isn't everyone's cuppa tea! The bad: It's a doorstopper of a novel, very long and slow-paced. The good: It's absolutely brilliant, filled with intricate details, REALLY creative. Give it a shot!

Adventures in reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell with my real-life book club (also posted on Fantasy Literature):

Tadiana: This book is like a mashup of Jane Austen, or maybe Charles Dickens, and fantasy, with Regency-era
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Paul Bryant
If a novel of nearly 900 pages can be summarised in one phrase then Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell may, I think, be described as a stately, sly, witty, intricate, comic retelling of Dracula, with digressions and very little blood.

Count Dracula takes life from beautiful young ladies, enslaves them, enchants them, enraptures them, steals them away, into his own twilight (oops, sorry) vampire world – they become something other than what they were, undead, not alive yet not dead, creatures
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Lyn
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If a writer is going to publish a book this big (thousand plus pages) then it must be very good, or the readers will never know about the thousands plus pages beyond the heft as they toss it aside or by the thickness as it is put back on the shelf.

This book is that good.

Using language correct for the time period (Napoleonic Wards era, early 1800s) and richly complex characterizations reminiscent of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, author Susanna Clarke has crafted a gem. It was the winner of and
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Apatt
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-20, fantasy-top20
Neil Gaiman said that this book is "hard to overpraise", I will make an attempt thus:

While I was reading the second half of this book it occurred to me that I don't actually need to read any other novel ever again, I could just read this one book over and over again for the rest of my days and when the Grim Reaper calls I shall have this book clutched possessively in my stiff, unyielding fingers.

Momentary insanity of course, but it is indicative of the devotion I feel toward this book. With in
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mark monday
the hero of this novel, Mr. Norrell, is in many ways a stranger in a strange land, uncomfortable with base emotions and disappointed with the shabbiness and inadequacies of others... yet always yearning for true companionship. a dignified, erudite, and refined gentleman; quietly soulful and elegantly restrained; commanding in his encyclopedic knowledge of the magical arts.

the other character, a fey and unreliable sort apparently named "Jonathan Strange", offers fleeting friendship that is
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carol.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Victorian fantasy fans, insomniacs
In the beginning was a preface, and then an introduction, followed by some exposition, and then an opening.

Looking through the reviews, it appears many people either adore it or hate it. Frankly, I'm in neither camp, because I can't work up enough emotion to care. It took a long time to become interested, and I finally had to resort to a strategy of reading only a few chapters at a time, setting free any expectation that this was a book that would pull me in and never let me go. It became the
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Evgeny
Jun 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Lately I became very fond of static pictures in my reviews. This book will have none. It deserves a very serious discussion and I feel the inclusion of pictures would provide a distraction from such.

The best description of the book would be the following. Suppose Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a love child – a daughter. A publisher was so thrilled by this that he promised to pay for a novel written by the daughter for each written word. The latter realized it would be a good time to take
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Henry Avila
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early part of the nineteenth -century there arose in northern England ( well one by the border of Wales) two powerful magicians, old bookworm Gilbert Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey, always reading in his immense dark library, obscure ancient dusty books on the subject that he cares only about, magic and young tall Jonathan Strange, who inherited like his future short friend, tutor and rival Mr. Norrell, (not interested then, in wizardry) a vast amount of property and money. Around the city of ...more
Maggie Stiefvater
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
This slow burn historical fantasy (it really isn't a proper historical fantasy -- it's really told much more as a straight historical and the fantasy is bonus) is one of the best novels I've read -- ever. Clarke never breaks voice or changes her slow, relentless pacing. It's a novel meant to be savored over the course of a month, not rushed through -- so that you can properly appreciate the rush of the climax.


***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite
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Matthew
This book was a chore! While I liked the story, the writing style was not enjoyable at all for me. Also, I am not really sure why everything happened, what exactly happened, and why it took so many words and pages to tell this story.

It started at 5 stars and, as I trudged through the book, there was a slow leak of stars as my interest started to wane. That leak stopped at 2 stars.
Bradley
Re-read, 11/11/18:

The only real review for this book is one that fully experiences it from the inside. In other words, take the roads, listen to the rocks, and above all, DON'T TRUST THE FARIES.

This was a classic when I first read it and it's just as good on any re-read. That's why I put this in my top-100 list. :) It will stand the test of time.

Let's fight with Wellington and defeat Napoleon with magic! Let's get into major trouble, get majorly paranoid, and do it with arrogance and style!

Above
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Diane
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished! My paperback was more than 1,000 pages long, so this is a triumph.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a book that I started out loving, but the middle part dragged so much that I grew impatient for the story to end. I feel so differently about the two halves of the book that I wish I could issue two Goodreads ratings.

Let's start with what I liked about this novel. Susanna Clarke has a great imagination and a good sense of humor. The story is set in the early 1800s in
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Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
After a hiatus of several centuries since it was actively practiced, magic is back in early 19th century England. Clarke has created an alternate, magical history, in which England had once been divided between north and south, and a temporal and a fairy kingdom. Stuffy intellectuals satisfy themselves with studying the writings of the past, forming debating societies. But in 1807 a person emerges who dares to actually practice magic.

description
Eddie Marsden as Mr Norrell - from AMC networks

Mr Norrell is
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Jeff
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Imagine Charles Dickens figuring out how to master the time/space continuum, managing to make his way into our present, and briefly discussing his masterwork, Hard Times, with J. K. Rowling. The result being this huge-assed, yet entertaining tome on British magic. Way to go, Boz and thanks!!

Is this for real, Jeff?

Not really random Goodreader. I had too much coffee this morning and my mind is racing like a sports car driven by Danica Patrick.

This book does kind of hit several literary sweet spots
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Arah-Lynda
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lod, i-said, top, to-the-island
Tired of your workaday lives,

Need to get away for a while?

Come, sit a spell

Let Susanna tell you a story.




We go to England in the 1800’s, a time of the Napoleonic Wars, a time when most people believe magic to be dead in England. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell are two magicians attempting, each in their own way, to change that and restore magic to England.

I can admit that it took me a while to find my legs here, acquire my own rhythm with the writing and the story. In many ways this reads
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Hannah Greendale
Nope, nope, nope. DNF at 68%. The act of reading has become a chore, a sensation that cannot be condoned or perpetuated.

It's been six hundred and eighty pages, and this book has yet to enthrall or surprise. The character motives baffle, the fantasy elements are uneven, the tone is dry and the story uneventful. Writing a tome of this magnitude is no small feat, but it's achieved to greater effect by Jonathan Stroud in his marvelous book, The Amulet of Samarkand, which I would leap to recommend
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Sam
Most books are not for everyone, and it can occasionally be hard to determine from a cover, a blurb, a sample chapter if something will be for you or not. And even if you believe something is for you, the book still needs to reveal and unfold and delight and surprise and strike emotional chords and climax and conclude to your satisfaction by its end, all while also possessing a writing style you respond to or at least does not detract from your enjoyment. So its sometimes a wonder we like any ...more
Julio Genao
and the kitchen sink.

description

simultaneously contemptuous and admiring of georgian culture and society, and possessed of many, many insights into the black heart of humankind, this book left me in a state of despair shot through with occasional palpitations of humor and excitement.

on the whole, a vastly self-indulgent work—and as impressed with itself as we're meant to be.

the footnotes, see... i love footnotes. but unlike, say, infinite jest, whose footnotes were by and large interesting and germane,
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Jonathan Terrington
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is Susanna Clarke's bestselling Fantasy History Novel. And it is amazing, astounding, supertastical, and brilliant. These are all just a handful of the real (and created) adjectives possible to throw at this tome. Were one to enter into an adjective war this book would defeat them hands down. For the potency of the words inside is incredible. And having done so would commence to bury in a pile of prose so powerful that I would be diabolically destroyed.

Jonathan
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Scribble Orca
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: almost everyone - unless you prefer Hollywood blockbusters, in which case, you'll be bored.
Recommended to Scribble by: Kris

I have quite some things to say and so little time in which to say these. And now we have the great year of Proust...it may be some time before these things are said, time being what it is, holidays being what they are, and my thoughts being scattered as usual.

So perhaps it's best to attempt the following:

Comparisons with Austen are appropriate for the social commentary and the (at times gently and perhaps not so gently snide) remarks the narrator makes about the actions of the characters. But
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Candi
Sep 17, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
At page 246, I'm throwing the towel in on this one. It's not that it's bad, it's really not. I just can't seem to get excited about it, and after this many pages, I want to be more eager to pick it up. I'm just not interested enough to find out what happens in the next 500 pages or so. I have so many other books screaming for my attention. Now this book is classified as fantasy and I don't usually read this genre. That's not to say I have never enjoyed a fantasy novel - I have in fact enjoyed a ...more
Peter
Lifeless
The overwhelming feeling after finishing this book is a sense of relief and then puzzlement that I did commit so much time to completing the task.

I found the book "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" a great disappointment on various levels and I may have been tempted to consider higher rating if it had not been so long. So that was my first and main disappointment - you took away hours that I could have spent on some great books. For once I have to say that the TV production was so much
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Trish
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnum opus. If the author never writes another book, she can still be immensely satisfied because this is a masterpiece (which is not to say that I don't want more).

Quite some time ago my attention was drawn to a TV show of the same name on Amazon Prime. I read the description and since I can never stay away from magic for very long, I watched it eventually - and fell in love with the peculiar and quirky people starring in this tale of magical adventure, love and loss.

It was only
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Susanna Clarke was born in Nottingham in 1959. A nomadic childhood was spent in towns in Northern England and Scotland. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and has worked in various areas of non-fiction publishing, including Gordon Fraser and Quarto. In 1990, she left London and went to Turin to teach English to stressed-out executives of the Fiat motor company. The following year she ...more
“And how shall I think of you?' He considered a moment and then laughed. 'Think of me with my nose in a book!” 1975 likes
“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange.
Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could.”
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